Well, after a random selection process involving Post it Notes, a judgmental dog, an independent adjudicator who barked at the judgmental dog when he felt she was taking too long making up her mind, I’m happy to say I have three winners for the One Small Act of Kindness giveaway! (and apologies for the delay; none of the excuses/reasons sound remotely convincing so I won’t even make them…) Violet picked out Joyce, Karen and Lisa Marie. Apologies to everyone else who entered, but I will be doing a lot more giving away of books, as the weeks go on. Especially in Swedish and Italian. I have a lot of Swedish and Italian translations needing a good home.
It’s been quite busy here, with One Small Act of Kindness coming out and getting stuck into my next, still untitled!, Longhampton book. By the time publication week rolls round, most writers tend to be deep into the next deadline, grappling with the next lot of characters and their problems, so we don’t always get to stop and celebrate properly. The hair-tearing, all night writing sessions seem like a long time ago, and the really heart-stopping moment – when you see the cover for the first time – happened months back. However, my kind and thoughtful publishers gave me a perfect reminder moment when this arrived by courier on publication morning…
My own little silver swallow of kindness! Isn’t it beautiful? Francesca, my editor, is brilliant at clever presents: she gave me a dandelion clock paperweight to celebrate A Hundred Pieces of Me, and I’ve had a bit of a thing about dandelions ever since (as you can see on this website). As soon as I opened the pretty box and saw the bird glinting up at me, I thought, right, I’m going to celebrate this book properly. So I went into town, signed some copies in Waterstones (the thrill! Never gets old!), lurked around the shelves in Tesco, Asda and Morrisons and generally felt lucky to have such a fantastic job and even luckier to be working with a team who could turn my 400 page ms into such a gorgeous paperback book.
What else has been happening? I was on Radio Cumbria a few weeks ago, giving my thoughts on Poldark and the Romantic Hero – it wasn’t one of my most stellar moments, given that it was 7.32am, and the host caught me on the hop when he asked what the most romantic thing someone’s ever done for me was. (Answer: helped me break into my house when I left my keys up in Scotland. I had to add quickly that housebreaking isn’t a traditional romantic hero quality, and not something that any male listeners should take as gospel.) I then made it worse by suggesting that Mr Darcy might be a bit boring in real life, the sort of man who’d insist on re-doing your tax return for you, then made that a bit worse by suggesting that actually I quite fancied men who were happy to relieve me of tedious admin jobs. I think I pulled it back when I said that most Cumbrian men were very romantic. Deep down.
I was (slightly) more coherent on the Periscope #whereIwrite video, which will be on Hachette’s minisite soon (I’ll post a link when I have it) – it was amazing to broadcast live from my study, and see messages popping up on my phone from viewers all over the world! It’s fifteen minutes of dogs, my own Hundred Pieces board, my bookshelves, my reading list, my notebooks, my desk full of old coffee cups and Post-It notes – essentially, it’s exactly like being trapped in my study with me, minus the flat whites and dog hairs. I’ve since browsed the other writers’ broadcasts and am now very reassured that pretty much everyone seems to have tidied up nearly all their mess but not quite.
Anyway, after a celebratory glass of prosecco (or two) with Francesca in London at Hachette’s dramatic new offices by the Thames last week, I’m now back at my desk with a pile of reading books, a bag of pug photographs, and my niece and nephew’s homework books for inspiration. I’m looking forward to the huge rainstorm predicted for Herefordshire tomorrow – I’ve got a lot to do!